Since my general removal of all products from the Grid, some readers might have noticed that I have not been entirely absent myself (not that I said that I would be, but it has caused some occasional surprise; less so now). I do pop in and out to attend functions and vaguely chit-chat. In fact, those who follow my Twitterthing might have even noticed that recently I have been doing some actual scripting, and playing with what passes for a Marketplace these days. Lawks. Not merely for the Twitterbox, either (progress on which I shall mention in a future post). I replaced the Festive Humbugs for sale - as very kindly mentioned by Ms Breezy Carver before I had even mentioned the fact - and have been working on at least releasing some of the items that I had previously mostly finished but not gotten around to doing anything about. I have even been attempting to finish the "avlink" module for Drupal to provide a framework for folk to easily manage Second Life (and Opensim) information on a Web Sort Of Basis.
I was wondering what my motivation might be for this - though it is nothing like a Return To Business As Usual, which will never happen. Attempting to do so, even if I were so inclined, would be doomed to failure; one can never return to what has gone before in that way (I have seen it tried several times). One must move forward or sideways or in some direction, not try to return to a previous state, which likely was not terrific or you would not have left in the first place.
Firstly there is simple boredom and lack of a suitable replacement outlet for creativity. Somewhat tragically, I'm afraid that I have spent so long turning my every passing thought into an idea for Second Life that I have found it very difficult to adjust to other media. I do write somewhat, but I am really not used to it and these days just do not think in terms of non-interactive fiction, or even interactive ones involving just the author and reader. I am used to my inventions becoming part of a huge self-creating mutual web of narrative: people taking and building on products, suggestions, character, insults etc for their own purposes and expanding the web similarly themselves. Much of the result likely completely unknown to me.
Admittedly, doing almost anything affecting another person makes one part of the world's emergent narrative (often termed "life") but working on the Grid always seemed to allow a far more direct effect, or at least used to. Part of the reason that I removed the shop was that I felt that I was losing that, and that the divisions in the world were becoming far more extreme between "consumer" and "creator", both practically and in terms of perception - residents being increasingly seen as consumers of the goods of professional creators, coincidentally paying to contribute their own social content (the main aspect that keeps folk about and spending - thus increasingly like the unholy, blasphemous Book That Must Not Be Named). But I have said all that and don't feel the need to say it again. The Rabbitcon has already been crossed after all and Satire is Dead for the nth time.
Which brings me to the Second Reason, which is that it is only fair that, after throwing my scripted rattle out of my physics-enabled pram previously, it is only fair to return and see if my opinion has changed in practice, and the only way to see whether that is the case is to actually attempt to do something. Thus far I have to say that I am not that impressed, but I shall follow it through for a while.
The Third Reason, however, is somewhat more perverse, and I have only admitted it to myself quite recently. I have always complained about events that I did not appreciate, which I feel is a rational and reasonable thing to do so long as those complaints might contribute in any way or even make one feel better. I do like to think, though, that mostly I was able to appreciate potential and positives, and when I was not I apologise. The balance between the number of perceived negatives and positives has changed over time, though (otherwise I would still be happily gluing plywood together).
I have said before that I thought that SL was moving in a direction that not only did I not like but which would end in disaster, but nowadays I have the distinct impression that it has gone very, very far down that particular spiral, and may not recover. And something in me likes the idea of being around and involved to see that, and appreciate the last days. I could of course be wrong, and very much hope that I am, but increasingly events suggest that the entire Laboratory is being turned towards the direction that is currently so popular with "Social Networks" - the delusional split between consumer/creator, as previously stated, where consumer-users sit about paying for things made by businesses, hopefully without appreciating that in fact, they themselves are the only valuable thing in the network.
I was always of the opinion that SL was far ahead of its time in that respect, as it appreciated that resident were the valuable thing that would attract other residents, and giving them tools and opportunities to improve the quality of the content they casually created (socially, artistically, commercially) would build a strong and resilient community. I had great doubts as to how well these tools were being supported, but not regarding the overall strategy. Now, it is not the same. I don't consider that any Network has a long-term future using the pay-to-consume strategy, and I particularly do not think that SL does, as by its nature it must put an awful lot more effort into maintaining the basic infrastructure for consumption than somebody just running a website, so is more vulnerable to changes in user preference and migration.
Thus I now have a Ballardian sense of being in a collapsing world, and, you know, I like it. I want to be sipping cocktails at a commandeered infohub as the sims around me are finally closed forever, sending long-abandoned plywood newbie builds into the void. As the sun sets for the last time on the grid, I promise you I will be there watching it, and you are welcome to join me for Damage-Enabled Gin and some nibbles.